Saturday, August 18, 2012



Happiness.  Too often I think we see happiness as a goal.  A state that we may one day reach but in striving for it, we miss the opportunity to actually be happy. Happiness for me is something that is present in every day I live. And no, I do not live some impossibly perfect life. I deal with traffic and bills, chores and hair that won’t do as it is told. I work for a start-up company where the future is anything but certain. I budget every dollar. I have bad knees that often wake me in the night aching. I am a worrier who clenches her jaw so hard that the muscles spasm. And yet, happiness is present for me every day and I will bet if you learn to look for it, it is there for you too.

My happiness project began several years ago when one random Monday, I felt particularly happy for no discernible reason at all. It was just a good day and in that day I noticed all sorts of lovely, if insignificant things. So I decided that from now on, every day, I would take note of things that made me smile and prioritise those memories over ones that made me sad.

Since then I have found myself collecting moments, noticing little tiny things that light my life and bring a smile to my face. Often they are fleeting moments, but paying attention makes them last longer. The snugly warmth of my feather doona. An elderly couple holding hands and exchanging a loving glance. The first blossoms of spring opening. My hot cup of tea warming my hands. All these tiny moments happened this morning and would be so easy to overlook if I hadn’t tuned my thinking to focus on things that made me smile.Some days are easier than others, but with practice noticing happy things becomes normal and provides a coping mechanism for the bad days.
The day I really realised the value of what I had taught myself to do was one terrible Saturday. I had woken with one of those head colds that just make you feel miserable because the phone had rung. It was the news that my Aunt had died. It was expected, she had terminal cancer but suddenly a really significant person in my life was gone. I struggled up to find my ex-flatmate collecting the last of his things and demanding his bond be paid back in cash. After a major argument which resulted in me visiting the bank then kicking him out I collapsed in a chair feeling awful. I was sad, angry and sick. But as I sat in that chair the sun shone in through the window and I could see a little blue wren hopping about in the bush outside. I sat there watching his antics and then I noticed I was smiling. Yes, I was still sad and sick but the heaviness had lifted. Even in that moment I knew that my sadness would pass, I would feel happy again and more importantly when I think back to that day, it is the feeling of contentment, sitting in my chair, warm in the sun watching a cute little bird that is my prevailing memory.

None of us get rainbows and roses every day. I don’t claim to be perpetually happy – there is many a day when tears are shed or I just feel down. But what I have created for myself is a life where those days are the slim minority and where happiness is my focus.

For me, finding happiness has been about learning to spot the ray of light that makes it through the clouds and focusing on it instead of the gloom. There is light and happiness in every day, it is up to us to find it.

I think this wonderful quote from Dostoevsky sums up my attitude to life:

Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it. ~ Fyodor Dostoevsky

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1 comment:

  1. I think this is something I should re-read on a weekly basis - what a beautiful summary of a lovely approach to life (one I share, but sometimes forget!).